Eleven years ago 2996 people died during the events of 9/11/2001. It was a tragic day for thousands of innocent people whose lives were taken. It’s impossible to understand the significance of the day for surviving family and friends.

From a colder, mathematical perspective, I’ve wondered what the total cost in lives has been since that morning. How connected these deaths are or are not to each other is up to you. With a few hours of research I compiled the math, with sources marked as follows:

WP = Wikipedia, CRS = Congressional Research Service, AP = Associated Press, DoD = U.S. Department of Defense

Deaths on 9/11/01: 2,996 (including 19 hijackers)
Injured on 9/11/01: 6000 (WP, but source needed)

The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

  • U.S. armed forces deaths in Iraq: 4422 (U.S. DoD)
  • U.S. armed forces injured in Iraq: 32,229 (U.S. DoD)
  • Coalition force deaths: 4,799 (WP, with sources)
  • Coalition forces injured: unknown
  • Contractor deaths: 1487 (WP, with sources)
  • Iraqi civilian deaths: 100,000 (AP, lowest of several estimates)
  • Iraqi civilians wounded: unknown
  • Iraqi military (supporting allies) deaths: 16,623 (WP, with sources)
  • Iraqi military (insurgent) deaths: 26,320 (WP, with sources)
  • U.S. armed forces killed in Afghanistan: 1980 (WP / CRS)
  • U.S. armed forces wounded in Afghanistan: 17,519 (WP / CRS)
  • Afghanistan civilian deaths (since 2007): 6478 (U.N. report)
  • Afghanistan military deaths: unknown (BBC)

In summary:

  • Total deaths: 179,628
  • Total casualties: 55,748

I don’t have any commentary. These numbers are staggering, no matter how you connect them or not.

Please check my math and my sources and note corrections in the comments. I’d be thrilled to see these stats vetted and improved. It was bewildering to go through all the reports and studies to compile even this list, as many reports show similar data in slightly different ways with different sources. I’m sure I’ve made mistakes, I’m just not sure where.

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17 Responses to “The math and aftermath of 9/11”

  1. Imran |

    Hundreds of thousand deaths are omitted in you estimate.

    Drone Attacks on Pakistan, Yemen, to name just few. Covert actions in middle east, asia, led by us forces with allied forces outside war zones etc.

    Reply
    • Scott Berkun |

      Before I’d consider adding anything, I’d like to have at least one verifiable link to a source that can be vetted. Some of these statistics are of course speculative, but without even a link, it’s hard for anyone else to come along later and improve / refute / support a particular claim.

      For example, for drone attacks in Pakistan there are a wide range of sources, some are listed in this Wikipedia page, where the range is from 1879 to 3240: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan

      Reply
  2. Martin Unsal |

    Hi Scott,
    Remarkable data. Definitely made me think.
    Just a quick note on the text. Casualty = killed + wounded, not wounded alone.
    Martin

    Reply
  3. Imran |

    In USA the war is considered as if only in afghan and iraq are only fronts. Somehow same war in Pakistan and Yemen is outside the media circles, thus outside american psyche.

    Both countries live through 911 every day, 10-50 people die daily on average. In Pakistan there is a count, in Yemen there is none, Yemeni army has killed thousands and destroyed villages after villages, in name of terror, but there is no media to cover.

    One day this war will end, and true facts will be available but pls do not forget 911 is daily deadly reality for these countries. Just google both countries in news on any given day and see the death tolls.

    Reply
    • DoesNotMatter |

      Imran,

      The primary reason why there is media coverage for western deaths is that the culture “simply cares” and generally the value associated with inidividual freedom and quality of life is higher in developed nations.
      The situation is rather depressing in developing countries where the culture cares more about religion/norms/hierarchy than individual freedom so it is necessary to look at our own mindsets/culture than complaining about how others treat us.

      Reply
      • J.rogers |

        I agree America has effectively retalliated for the barbaric attack on 911. We need to pull all our troops and our SUPPORT, money etc. and let the middle east either come to peace with themselves or kill each other off. I don’t care what they do over there. if they want to live in this country and practice their religion I have no problem with that, but if they do acts of terrorism here, we need to send them back home in a body bag. No trials they don’t have the same rights as U.S. Citizens.
        Iraqi war vet

        Reply
  4. If Only |

    If only we could live in splendid isolation…..but I shudder to think of what may happen should we take that course. The easy options ended with 9/11.

    Reply
  5. Thor |

    And from 2001 through 2010 there have been 401,708 motor vehicle deaths on United States highways AND 20,700,000 motor vehicle injuries. Combat seems almost safe in comparison.Just a statistical observation.

    Reply
    • Scott Berkun |

      It’s all horror to me

      Our concerns about life and death are ambivalent at best

      Reply
  6. Anand |

    I can’t digest the fact about how casually you have put these numbers across. It just makes me sad to see your coldness in doing so, while you are ignoring whole lot of truths… I don’t understand why you are interested in collecting metrics as in a software project: you must remember you are talking about lives… Human. If you are really interested, why restrict to Americans alone. Do you care about the world?

    Reply
    • Champ |

      Your point is not clear to me…Scott did paint picture of human casualties and those can be accurate to a degree. This is not a scientific study so, dont take out of the context.

      Reply
  7. Sean Crawford |

    Anand, when Scott says he doesn’t have commentary I take that to be a code saying he does indeed care, and that, for various reasons, he doesn’t have commentary.

    I am reminded of the first book in the Chtorr Wars by David Gerrold. Crops have gone unharvested. A professor at a party, while eating luxury food, is explaining that future deaths are inevitable. The hero gets upset at him for not caring. The teacher replies, in effect: Would I care more if I stood here upset, while eating bread and water? And please don’t shout, I am standing right here.

    Reply
  8. Robert Sharp |

    There is an entire other angle to this conversation, which is to compare terrorism related deaths at home, to deaths by other means (e.g. gun crime, gang crime, road deaths, seizures, cancer, lightening, etc). Those numbers always surprise me and put the focus on ‘Keeping America Safe’ in perspective.

    I am in the UK and the statistic which I often cite is the number of domestic violence deaths. The average is 2 per week, or 104 per year. That is double the number of deaths we had on the 7/7 London Underground Bombings. Politicians spent a lot of time and political capital trying to enact meaningless and counter-productive anti-terror legislation, but did very little to change behaviours so that domestic violence is less frequent, and reported more often.

    Reply
    • Scott Berkun |

      Robert: Indeed. It’s surprising the impact of changing the bookends on the data. In the U.S. there are 40k traffic fatalities every year. That’s an astounding number. Since those deaths occur in small increments and have little political power, they’re easy to ignore. But these other horrible events are easier to draw attention to, or use to justify this or that position, leading us to think (perhaps) that they’re more significant than they are.

      It’s all horrible, but so often we respond to horror without much context.

      Reply
  9. Sameer Halai |

    For stats on drones you can refer to this site. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have deep-links so wait for the drone visualization to load and then click on “info” for all the data sources.

    http://drones.pitchinteractive.com

    Reply
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